Suggestions for USB4/3 docks?

Mhh. I of course would like that and am willing to pay for that. But I think the average customer might not agree with you and like stuff like USB-C hubs based on Vias VL830 that is just USB4 without TB3 compatibility and hence cheaper than any TB4 solution…
We are getting to a point it includes that many features, that mandating every single one, always, would often drive up the cost, waste silicon, because it is not usable in practice or disincentivize its presence on anything but the most premium products where price does not matter at all…

Mhh. It is a mess, yes.
But I think you can absolutely see what the USB-IF was trying to do.
The Spec versions were never intended for consumer use. They always had consumer-facing labels and logos for their speeds: FullSpeed, HighSpeed, SuperSpeed, SuperSpeed+ SuperSpeed+ 20G. Those existed from the beginning, were on every package, yet barely used in reviews, press, device specs etc. Those that used the numbers instead, including basically all publications did not realize what kind of dead-end this was heading to.

You can argue that they were to slow to react with that rebranding to only the actual speeds and that they screwed up, because for a year they did not clarify whether “USB 20G” meant solely USB4 20G or also USB3 20G (they are now clarifying only USB4, so USB3 20G even got its name axed). And yet, it is still not used in practice…

Calling the USB4 spec actually “USB4 version 1.0” was clearly designed to make it as hard as possible for idiots to continue to list the spec version instead of the proper name because it was shorter, but instead default to calling it “USB4” and the speed like intended from launch. Because they realized, even though never intended and communicated by them that way, that 99% of customers, reviewers and manufacturers just said “USB 3.1” to mean sth. it does not, instead of the always clearly communicated “USB3 SuperSpeed+”.

If anything, I would blame them for apparently not having the PR division to reach out to larger publications to get them to publish explainers and use proper names going forward. Using the spec versions is just not tenable for complex standards that live longer than 2 generations.
And Intel shows that they can just relable sth. as a premium-tier at higher price to solve exactly that problem for the consumer that does not want to concern themselves with the details and is willing to pay more in order to have all the compatibility expressed in a single term.


Will a thunderbolt dock work with the discrete GPU on the 16? My desktop will pass the GPU though thunderbolt but only if I connect a cable from the GPU to the MB DP input. I presume this would work but the Framework 16 is sort of an odd duck so I’m a bit worried a dock would only work with the iGPU.

The dock will connect to the iGPU, however the operating system will still be able to use the dGPU for most of the work and use the iGPU just for the final outputting to the display. This typically results in ~10% less performance than if the dock was connecting to the dGPU directly.

This is the case with the vast majority of laptops.

What GPU the dock connects to is controlled by the USB4/TB4 controller.

The USB4/TB4 controller built into any current CPU* only supports using the iGPU, so if Framework (or any laptop manufacturer) wants the ports to connect to the dGPU they would need to use separate controllers from the CPU. This is possible (IIRC Dell has done it on some 17-inch laptops), however separate controllers tend to have higher power consumption and worse performance than the controllers built into the CPU.

Furthermore Framework is already near the limits of the PCIe bandwidth capabilities of the current CPU in the Framework 16. This isn’t a problem for the integrated controllers (since those pull from their own dedicated separate bandwidth), however would be a problem with separate controllers. So it would likely also be necessary to switch to a different CPU, likely one with worse power efficiency and a worse iGPU.

* - IIRC some of Intel’s 11th Gen and earlier CPUs had integrated Thunderbolt controllers that could use the dGPU.

So almost no laptop will connect a dock to the dGPU. Framework or not.

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From what I’ve read, there is a USB-C alt-mode port on the 7700S expansion bay itself which would connect to the dgpu directly. It would not be able to passthrough USB or charging via the dock with that port. I could be wrong though.

I believe that would only output DP video, since it’s basically a DP port just in a USB-C connector (DP alt mode). I don’t believe it will have anything else like USB, PCIE tunneling, or TB. Basically it’ll act like a USB-C connector out of a desktop GPU.

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It has USB 2.0 (confirmed by Framework CEO).

The USB-C connector has separate dedicate lines for USB 2.0 that can’t be used for high speed uses.

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Ah, you’re right, found the source:

Though I’m guessing you’ll still have to connect a separate cable for charging, or any other dock features.

Ah, I think that makes sense. Would work as a one-cable solution for a DP display with touch screen via USB 2.0.

Well that is the absolute minimum a usb-c host port has to have according to spec…